The Lady Vols tennis team traveled to New York City to open up their spring season play.
The big story coming into the weekend was, due to injuries, UT had to play a woman down, forfeiting one match each day. Despite this, the Lady Vols stayed competitive throughout the weekend.
One player who stood out to co-head coach Mike Patrick this weekend was junior Kata Szekely. Szekely won both of her singles and doubles matches.
 “It was a really successful weekend for me,” Szekely said. “I just stayed with the game plan and it worked.”
They opened play taking on ninth-ranked Virginia on Saturday afternoon. Natalie Pluskota continued to battle an injury and did not compete in singles, but competed in doubles.
Having to forfeit the first match, the Lady Vols evened the score with a win by Caitlyn Williams in straight sets. After dropping three straight matches, Szekely got the Vols another match win, but it was too late. Virginia won the singles.
However, the Lady Vols corrected their mistakes and took the doubles matches. Sophomore Brynn Boren and freshman Sarah Toti took one, and Szekely and freshman Joanna Henderson won the other.
Virginia took the overall victory by a score of 4-3.
“We knew we were talented,” Patrick said. “To handle the adversity of not having a full squad, it was a tough way to go against a great team. We competed well and fought hard on every court. Virginia is a quality opponent. If that’s where we’re at right now, I think we can compete with a lot of teams, especially come March.”
With optimism coming into the second day, the Lady Vols could not get a win against the No. 4 North Carolina Tar Heels. Falling to the Heels 4-2 gave Tennessee a 0-2 start to their spring season.
Once again, the Lady Vols had to play singles a woman down due to injuries. Controlling the doubles point for a second straight day wasn’t enough to overcome the lack of a player.
Pluskota and Caitlyn Williams grabbed a doubles victory, 8-4, followed by two more wins from Boren/Toti, 8-5, and an 8-2 win by Henderson/Szekely.
Szekely got another dominating win over a ranked opponent in straight sets, (6-3, 6-2). No other Lady Vols could get into the win column during singles.
 “We have talent, we just have to get tougher,” Patrick said. “The team we played today showed its experience and they took it to us. Hopefully, we can get Natalie back and that will help quite a bit.”
The Lady Vols have a week off to prepare for next weekend when they take on UC Davis Friday at 2 p.m. The outcome will determine the time and opponent for Saturday’s match.